Wellness is a hot topic right now. In fact, corporate wellness services are now worth $2 billion a year. Research has highlighted the detrimental effects of business travel; from higher risk of poor health to insufficient sleep and heightened stress levels.
Corporates are responding. Traveller wellness and satisfaction are now ranked third highest in travel managers’ priorities after cost control and duty of care. 55% of larger employers have employee wellness programmes in place, although just 11% have programmes specifically for business travellers.
Globally, awareness amongst business travellers of the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits is growing. 38% of business travellers are eating healthier whilst on the road and healthy eating is a major concern for the business traveller community; 73% want hotels to offer better healthy food options.
So, what are hotels doing to meet the need of business travellers? Life has certainly moved on since wellness equated to a Spa offering. Here is a selection of UK venues meeting the challenge.
The great outdoors
Like many venues, Warwick Conferences has focussed on environment, updating and refurbishing the Scarman lounge to give delegates a relaxing area away from the main meeting room and creating a Wellness hub.
Spending time outside can lower blood pressure and boost mental health, so Warwick Conferences have developed outdoor spaces including new garden furniture and brought more plants indoors to segregate the different areas.
The Lowry in Manchester offers urban wellness retreats designed for event delegates. These focus on learning life-enriching habits through healthy exercise and nutrition. Each session is customisable with options for yoga, HIIT and well-being workshops -the ideal team building exercise.
Planners can choose the elements that best match delegates’ wellness goals and these urban retreats can be combined with a half-day meeting package.
Conference food has traditionally been uninspiring and unhealthy The De Vere brand has been working to change that by collaborating with nutritionist Wendy Martinson OBE since 2017.
When De Vere Canary Wharf launched its new meeting spaces in the summer of 2018, seasonal and nutritious meals became key to the new offering. In 2019, De Vere celebrated ‘Veganuary’ across its portfolio with a special range of vegan menu options, and now healthy eating is central to the brand’s meetings product.
As part of De Vere’s Smart Space offer, the lunch buffer options available to delegates include butternut squash, red Thai curry with spinach and chickpeas; chargrilled fennel, smoked tofu, beef steak tomato and nut-free pesto.
Wendy Martinson must be a very busy lady. Having partnered with De Vere, she also acts as Group Nutritionist to the Principal Hotel Company.
Lime Venues has also latched onto healthy eating, focussing more on food, introduced reducing red meat on their menus and reducing waste by challenging the traditional perceptions that food should never run out.
Working with sister company, and wellbeing specialists Levy UK, Lime Venues has launched Mindful Meetings packages. These include well-thought-out menus build on understanding health, wellbeing and the environment. Mindful Meetings showcase seasonal vegetables but still feature meat options and healthy treats.
The guiding principles are that to maintain brain and body function delegates need to remain hydrated throughout the day; embracing a nutritional diet is central to being assertive, and a lack of quality balanced fluid can reduce productivity.
Examples of event technology enhancing delegate wellness by reducing stress and boosting productivity include Edwardian Hotels’ new app for meeting delegates. Edward is a chatbot that responds to delegates’ requests via SMS text messaging.
Edward enables delegates message their requirements and receive immediate responses without disturbing the meeting. From requests to top up the coffee, to delaying lunch by fifteen minutes or simply turning the air conditioning down.
As wellness products grow in popularity, hotels will integrate wellness-oriented products into every aspect of the guest or delegate experience, from food and beverage menus to guestrooms amenities. Some are specifically target wellness consumers such as Westin by Marriott and EVEN® hotels by IHG. Westin has partnered with Peloton bikes to offer in-room cycling options, and EVEN® hotels include yoga mats and fitness equipment in every room.
One thing’s for sure – the Wellness revolution shows no signs of abating.